Saturday, April 25, 2009

Home Sweet Home

This is a blog primarily to document and thus provide evidence for my claim that I reside in "Crazytown." Really, though, I know most of what I experience in life is no different that the rest of you. It is just life. Yet, there are times when I think surely this is not "normal." And so, begins another post...

We rent our house to a group of people who are attending the furniture market in our town. It is good, free money for 10 days, 2x a year, yet, I always wonder after it is all said and done if it is truly worth it. Sure, you are forced to get your house completely in order, totally clean. You are displaced for a short period of time and get a very nice check for your trouble. But for us, it is never that simple.

Currently, it is furniture market time which signals chaos in our house. Never have we had an "uneventful" market. Something always goes awry. There was the one year we decided to "camp" in our camper at the local campground. Lily found Jay's heart medication while I was tending to the others in the bathtub. That resulted in 3 days at Brenner's Children's Hospital. In the end, Lily was fine. Ok, so that probably deserves its own post. There is so much fodder in just those 4 sentences. Not all markets have been that potentially catastrophic, but I have come to the conclusion that if something is going to happen, it will usually occur during the two weeks of April and the two weeks in October during which this blessed event takes place.

This year, has been no exception. The two weeks prior to market, I had two sick children. Sadie was first with the stomach virus that lasted 5 days, missing 4 days of school. I had 3 days of reprieve before Ethan started up, lasting 4 days of which 3 were missed school days. Very insignificantly, but still a bump in the road, was the complete breakdown of my beloved mop, only a few short hours prior to my renters' arrival.

Learning the campground was not ideal for our family, we now reside in our basement for the 11 days the renters are here. This is extremely convenient. Quite happily, I can say this is the first maket during which the basement is complete, meaning there are no construction projects being completed while we are down here. One market we did a LOT of painting. Another, we put stone around the gas fireplace and finished the wood flooring. Last market, we installed the hanging ceiling, continuously sending a shower of white specks and dust over the entire area and our belongings.

Sadly, apart from market, we really don't utilize this space as much as we should. Therefore, market tends to justify its existence. However, space that is not used is inviting. Inviting for creatures and varmints. Within the first 24 hours we killed a little field mouse and a snake. By "we," I mean Jay. I simply stood there and screamed like I was going down with the Titanic. I deplore snakes. And, yes, I know that where there is one, there are others. I can only continue to reside in these living conditions with the idea that it slithered in here when the kids left the basement door open for a couple of hours. Slithered. I am shivering just writing that word.

But, so far the pièce de résistance of April Market 2009 can be summed up with two words - "sprinkler malfunction." I am not at liberty to go into details, so let's just leave it at that. And, there appears to be a silver lining to what could have been a terrible situation.

It is a bit of a déjà vu story for me. When I was very, very young, my father began a furniture company. I only learned of this fact in the last couple of years, which I find interesting. Anyway, he and his partner had multiple orders placed and manufacturing was running smoothly. It was the early stages of the business. The future was very bright. However, next door to their building, construction was occurring. There was some sort of heavy rain/flooding. A deluge of mud and water came crashing down an poorly graded embankment, tearing into the wall of their building and thus destroying the entire operation. In order to cut costs in their initial phase, they had not purchased insurance. They were over. Finished. My dad, realizing the catastrophic impact of losing everything, went back to work doing what he was educated to do - furniture design. He has had quite successful career, but I know he must have always wondered, "what if."
I think I could deal with market being over pretty soon. Enough is enough.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Question for the Day

I am knee-deep this week in market preparations for our renters. For those with no connections to my town that follow this blog, we rent our house for 10 days, twice a year to a group of people attending the very large trade show held here. I know it sounds a bit strange...complete strangers in your house, sleeping in your bed. But, we have done it for awhile and now those "stranger" are more like family. It is a fantastic way to force getting your house in order twice a year. It is always a bit stressful, yet this year seems to be eerily relaxed. I am sure I am forgetting some key element.

I haven't had much time to craft a decent post. I am working on some pieces, but haven't gotten them tweaked exactly where I want them to be. Instead of stressing about it, I am letting this rest for a bit.

The other "going-on" in my life is my recently acquired mp3 player. I am walking down memory lane, ala youtube. Fun stuff. But, what I want from you is your top 5 must-have downloads. Well, you can give me how many you want - new, old, secular, christian. Whatever! If you have particular songs for running, let me know. I am trying to get back into that zone. Comment away, dear readers, and help me fill this up!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Dream a Dream with Susan Boyle

If you haven't seen her, maybe you have heard her. She is the latest viral video sensation on youtube thanks to the television show, "Britain's Got Talent." Last I checked videos of her had been viewed some 16 million times worldwide in less than some 3 days. That alone could make you curious to watch her, right? What is so special about this lady? Well, watch this and see: Susan Boyle. Seriously, if you don't watch the video you will not come close to understanding this post. Well, ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but I really want you to experience it all the way to the end as the judges comments are quite compelling.

You learn from the video that she lives alone with her cat, Peebles. She is unemployed, never been married, never been kissed and is 47. Yes, 47, and the quintessential frumpy, single, cat lady. The video does not begin to tell her whole story.

What you don't know, but I do, because of the magic of google, is that she found the courage to go on such a show because it was her dying mother's wish, whom she nursed until her death. She has a learning disability that made her the subject of cruel teasing and taunting as a child. This learning disability was caused by a lack of oxygen to her brain which occurred because of abuse she endured when she was young.

Yet, here she is. And, I love her. Why?

Yeah, ok, we all love the underdog. In economic times such as these we all need a little boost to our day, a little smile. But, I think it goes much deeper than this. At least it does for me.

I love her because she has beaten the odds. Yes, I know that defines her as an "underdog", but keep reading. She rose above the circumstances, the abuse, the bullying, and if I may go so far to say this...most likely loneliness, heartbreak, emotional turmoil that goes far beyond where I have been.

I relate to her because I have been on the nasty receiving end of taunting and teasing. And, no doubt, sadly and with much remorse, I doled out some verbal vomit and was dismissive to others. Watching Ms. Boyle created in me this ball of compassion and conviction that erupted into the such overflow of tears and exuberance that I nearly stood up and clapped and cheered for her while in my own study. My smile was large and wide and very uncontrollable. While watching her, it was like I was breaking free of some childhood pain and vowing to create a new legacy for my own children. My heart wants never to make a snap judgment of someone's worth, because every single person has worth, immeasurable worth. I know we often say that, but don't our actions often betray this sentiment?

Honestly, she is not an attractive woman, physically. Yet, she comes onto that stage with such confidence (note the swagger). She rolls her hips around with flair. She is real, albeit a bit raw. How does she do this? Because she is utterly who she is, without a doubt she knows who she is. And, she allows me to see who she is, not just the persona of who she strains to be. I want that for myself.

She has been singing since she was 12. Her dream is to be a professional singer, singing in front of a large audience and to be as successful as Elaine Page. Boyles' outlay of her aspirations made me think about my own dreams and goals. To equate her goal to something in my life means that my dream would be to have a NY Times best seller. I wouldn't dare think about anything like that. It has never even crossed my mind. Being on Oprah, well, that is another story, made long before writing ever entered the picture. But really, I would be happy just to see something in actual print. The question is...why don't I dream big? Why don't I allow myself to even think about such lofty ideas?

Most importantly, however, is this: Despite what has been a lifetime of rejection, Susan Boyle appears to be quite authentic and transparent. Her own life is an open book, not shuffled under the rug and or hidden behind the door, nor attempted to be anything it is not. How did she arrive to this point in her life? Well, she learned to sing in church and it is there that she practiced her amazing gift. I would imagine that her relationship with God is what is really on display here. It is only through Him that we can be comfortable, that we can be free to be who we really are.

Today's bottom line: It is world's most erroneous standard and we have bought into it. The lie is that only the beautiful, rich and fabulous have something to offer this world. The lesson of Susan Boyle is that every single being matters - who they are, what they are and how they dream. And, if she couldn't hold a tune, she should be loved just as much.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clarification and Research

Alright, I clearly confused a few people with the "Chapter 2" title of my post yesterday. My writing project is not about Sadie. Although clearly she warrants such consideration. It was, however, in reference to my post here entitled "Just a Little Crabby" where I mentioned a chapter I should write entitled, "The Enigma that is Sadie."

I still need MANY more questionnaires completed and returned. I have about 30-35 of them and was hoping over time to get about 100. Maybe that is unrealistic, but that is my goal.

Oh great. The dog, Dixie, just walked into the room and guess what...she has a strand of chewing gum hanging out of her mouth. Wonder where that came from and what kind of mess awaits me in another room. Obviously, I need to wrap this up.

Here are the questions, again. I ask that you answer with honesty, what you really feel, NOT what you think is the correct answer or what you think society says it should be.

1. What do you fear people, particularly other women, will know about you? What do you try to hide?
2. What do you avoid at all costs in your interaction with other women ?
3. When did you start hiding parts of yourself from the world? Can you remember an age or circumstance that led to this?
4. What 3 goals/desires do you have for your children?
5. How did your childhood impact these goals?
6. In what ways do you feel you fail as a mother? Or, as a wife?
7. Who, in this world, do you model?
8. What do they have that you don't?
9. Do you think (scale of 1-10) you are successful at modeling them?
10. Name 3 things you routinely do out of "peer pressure", because all the other wives and mothers are doing it.
11. Describe what "having it all" really means to you.

If you would like to email me your responses, here is mine, with some spaces: kelsey @ THANKS!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chapter 2, The Physical Prowess of Sadie

Let's see. She must have been three and a half. Shockingly, what I found in her room, could have killed her, easily. Now, I can be amazed at how her determination, creativity, dexterity, imagination and keen skills of manipulation converged together in this single event.

Sadie had a strong affinity for the Flintstone vitamins we kept on the highest shelf of our tall kitchen cabinets. She was a tiny little thing for her age, but with amazing fine motor skills and physical flexibility.

I entered her bedroom to clean up what was always the Sadie-tornado-induced disaster. I approached the little round play kitchen and saw a white piece of plastic with jagged edges sitting in the play microwave. I picked it up, it was clearly a lid with some of the surrounding pieces of plastic intact. I began to search around for other clues to this mystery. It didn't take long to find it. Hidden underneath her freshly painted white desk was the remainder of the large plastic bottle of vitamins and a very sharp kitchen knife.

Here is what she accomplished sometime in the previous day or so. She had scrambled onto the kitchen counter, stood on tip toes to retrieve the "child-proof" bottle of vitamins (which by the way are chocked full of iron). She then scrambled to another counter to procure a sharp kitchen knife from the butcher block holder. At some point she took both items up the long stairway to her room. Then, she proceeded to use the sharp kitchen knife to completely cut through the very thick plastic bottle and ultimately cut the entire lid off, creating two pieces. She achieved this without a single cut or injury to herself.

In my panicked discovery, I quickly grabbed the phone and dialed poison control. The overdose of iron could be deadly. Because this was the "Costco" version of the bottle, there was no way to tell exactly how many had been ingested. I was instructed to quiz Sadie on how many she took. Sadie calmly answered me, "Mommy, I just took 1/2 pill a day, just like I 'posed to. I used the knife to cut them into two." Of course. The child who goes to all the trouble to obtain the vitamins, breaking every rule in our house, will at least follow the instructions on the bottle.

The operator was very kind and after discussing the time frame of the incident we gathered that she was most likely ok. However, I was instructed to watch her like a hawk, which clearly I had not been doing, and to go to the emergency room if a slew of reactions began to present themselves.

And, where was I when all of this was happening? Who knows, really. I mean, it is not like I left her alone for long periods of time. I best surmise it happened while I was in the shower and getting ready one morning. I am sure there are a few "new" mothers freaking out about now, but seriously, what is the likelihood this entire scenario would play out? We are talking a 3-1/2 year old.

Which leads me to another point...what does this say about my child? That she is persistent, determined and has an amazing ability to not only know what she wants, but can work through the steps on how to achieve it. Granted, this skill was not channeled in a direction I would have chosen, but I am trying to find the positive in what easily could have been disaster.

I have seen this same skill set played out over and over in her brief life. At age 18 months, not yet potty-trained, she took her diaper off. Picked up the poo contained within, and crammed it into the little toy potty in her dollhouse that Santa had dropped off just 5 months previous. At least she understood where is was supposed to go, right?

Sometime when Sadie was around 17 months old, I was cleaning out winter clothes, switching in summer ones. There were a few bathing suits in a box. While I was putting clothes in the drawers, Sadie completely undressed herself and adorned herself, correctly I will add, with a bathing suit. She even reached down and put her own socks back on her feet. At 17 months.

When she was 4, she could shimmy across the monkey bars, the big kid monkey bars, all by herself. She taught herself how to swing her legs left and right to propel her body forward. I recall in the spring of 2007, we visited friends in D.C. and rode the metro. Not content to sit in the chairs, my child held on to the poles that help you remain steady when standing, you know, when all the seats are full. Quickly, she began to "work" that pole, skimming up and down, slinging around, twirling. All I wished at that moment was that it was not an indication of her future profession.

When she was barely 5, she came running into the house shouting, "Mommy, I just rode Ethan's bike!" I grabbed the camera and went outside. Yep, she taught herself how to ride a big kid's bike without training wheels...all by herself.

Recently, at age 6, she attempted to climb a rock climbing wall. Never having participated in such a feat, she was immediately infatuated with giving it a go. She quickly scrambled to the top, almost reaching the bell, and then became stuck. Instead of whimpering and panicking like most of the people before her, she simply lowered herself back down to the mid-way point. She reassessed the entire wall, calculated her new route and headed right back up in a newly determined path to ring that bell.

And, I watched her yesterday at the Great Wolf Lodge, tackling some plastic lily pads floating in the water. There were ropes above you to help you maneuver across the pool on the pads. Picture an obstacle course on water. Many failed before her, and some were challenged. Not Sadie. Quickly, with skill and agility, she made it look very easy. Her mother was not so lucky.

I am sure I could comb through her baby book and add many other stories. I am also positive that many reading this could, too. It is that confidence, that complete lack of fear that scares me, yet allows me to probably give her a bit more freedom than most children her age. I laugh, but with some seriousness say to people...Sadie has the ability to set the world on fire, literally or figuratively. My prayer is for the latter!

Monday, April 13, 2009

10 Things I Learned at the Beach

Things I learned on my trip to the beach with my three kids:

1. Old school is best. We have been blessed with a DVD player in our car. On previous trips, we have turned on the movie of choice before we even made it out of the driveway. This time, I decided to wait until it was requested. Guess what? They never asked for it. Shocking, really. This may stem from the fact that the kids had just finished up a week's worth of grounding which included no "screens" (television, computers, wii, psp, etc.) But I think it really was the result of letting the kids pick out a coloring book and markers of choice as well as pack hefty amounts of books. They were focused on the books the entire way. Not one squabble, not one screeching, not one issue. Clearly, old school is the way.

2. Once they have completed a "job," learned to behave in a positive way, that should be the only expectation. The kids made a 4 hour journey and the atmosphere was calm, peaceful, delightful. Though the bar has been set high, they will be expected to achieve it each and every time. It is like once your child dresses himself, he has mastered that skill. The expectation is that he will now do this every morning. And, really, if you begin to help him again, then you are not allowing him to become independent in an area that he has already mastered. Now, I know that failure is going to happen, and it will be forgiven, but this is an example of the kind of behavior that I will point to when the going gets rough.

3. It really, really bothers Ethan when Sadie disobeys me. I haven't seen this as clearly as I did this morning at breakfast. Sadie could not leave her silverware alone. First, clinking it against her glass, then beating it loudly on the table, then slightly tapping it on the table, then using them to scrape along the placemats. Each time, I asked that she stop what she was doing and then she would find a way around what I had just requested. It really bothered Ethan and he finally told her so. "Sadie, you are really being disobedient to Mommy and you need to stop." I solved the entire issue by taking her utensils until breakfast arrived.

4. Ethan is keenly aware of what I might do to embarrass him. Alert at all times. Ready to rebuff my advances of a kiss or hug. Always ready to preempt a comment he thinks I am going to make in public with a verbal warning made by him. "Mom, don't think about bringing up..."

5. My children are much more persnickety about the temperature of a body of water than either my sister or me were when we were their age. My family religiously traveled to the beach every Easter. I remember always swimming in the outdoor pool in April, no matter the weather. Purple lip-inducing water was the norm. Yet, my kids complain about the indoor pool water, remaining only in the small hot tub generally reserved for adults.

6. Sadie is my evangelist. She was expounding on the gospel in a very simple, loving way to an Indian girl in the pool. She wasn't forceful, she wasn't ugly, she wasn't condemning. She just asked some questions and then said, "You should think about Jesus. He is real and the bible is real." The girl told her she believed in something else (a king that is their god? or something like that). And Sadie said, "Ok, but think about it. " Later while we were eating breakfast, this same family came into the restaurant and were seated at a table next to us. Sadie broke out in an impromptu prayer.

Note: As the days passed by at the beach, you can tell my tone in this post changes from sweet and peaceful to slightly aggravated and irritated.

7. Hooters t-shirts on men. Ridiculous. I have never been a fan of this establishment. The premise of this restaurant is appalling and for men to tell me they, "go there for the food," begs me to ask them this question, "Do I look like a fool to you?" The particular t-shirt in question said, "Hooter Girls Love Me." Of course they do, you ding dong, they are paid to do that and their tips depend on their ability to lavish this fake attention on you! Why would you a) advertise you have been there and b) show how gullible you are?

8. No matter what system is established, arguments will always abound on who's turn it is to press the elevator buttons or open the hotel room with the room card. I am too old to remember who did it last, too old to referee and too old to care. Trust me, we had several systems to keep this straight. All failed. The only one that worked is when I didn't allow anyone to do it except me.

9. Lily has learned that if she wants to get my attention right away, she must firmly plant her lips on mine for a kiss. It doesn't matter if I am talking to a waitress, my high school friend we met on the way home from the beach, or trying to eat my own food. She will try to force my face in her direction, kiss me (even if slightly more on the cheek) and then say, "Mommy, I need you." It doesn't matter if it is an emergency or if it is just to tell me that her food is good. She has clearly lost the art of patience. And, though it seems really cute at first, after about the 50th time, it gets old. The kisses are not from the heart and she could just be hitting me in the arm to get my attention. It is just mechanical.

10. A trip with your kids is just what you need to remind you how blessed you are. Blessed to have them and blessed that they go to school for several hours each day to give you some "alone" time. Seriously, you often lose sight of how much they are growing and changing during the daily grind. It is when you take these journeys absent of breaks that you see just how quickly time is passing and how the days of these trips are numbered.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Well, I'm off! I am leaving town today with the three kids, sans husband. We are swinging through New Bern and onto Atlantic Beach for a couple of days, then back through Raleigh on our way home. Say a prayer for us, specifically me. I will be without other adults and we have one small hotel room. The weather isn't going to be particularly wonderful, but the NC Aquarium, Fort Fisher and the indoor pool at the hotel will hopefully keep us busy.

Over the next three days, I have invited three friends to guest blog. Meaning, they will author what will appear on my blog. They are talented writers, so be generous with your comments. I know you will enjoy them as much as I do!

While I am gone, I will be working on Chapter 2 of "The Enigma That Is Sadie." There are so many stories from which to choose, it should be pretty easy. And, I want to spend some time on "the book." Oh, who am I kidding? I will be solely in charge of the kids and maintaining my sanity will be work enough! Like I am going to get any writing done.

So, stay tuned!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Just a Little Crabby

A few years ago, it was the high-season of pets in our home. I know it always appears that way to those that know us well, but this particular season we owned two dogs, a cat, two lovebirds and two hermit crabs. The kids were thrilled with all of the living creatures around us, though it seems all I did was clean up after more critters than the three required by law. Sadie was particularly fond of her hermit crab although their lack of activity, their stench and well, boring lifestyle made it a mystery to me.

It was a Sunday morning during this season. Well, actually, it was one of those Sunday mornings. You know the kind - the one where you break every cardinal sin, or at least think of them, before you reach the church doors? From the moment you wake, the kids are fighting, your husband has a headache and the irony of the snipping, snapping, arguing does not escape you on this, "the Lord's day."

Your squalling and fretting continue even when you enter the church parking lot, and as the doors of the van slide open you try to put on that "happy" church face where all appears calm and perfect, and none of the struggles that plagued you just a second ago are visible. Wetting your hand to try to smooth the obvious bed-head still evident on your children. What wetness remains you use to wipe off the last bit of sugary stickiness from the breakfast consumed just a few minutes earlier.

You quickly shove the kids in their age-appropriate classrooms and arrive at the sanctuary doors out of breath realizing that you still have the diaper bag in hand. Back to the children's wing you go.

And this is the set up of today's chapter in, "The Enigma that is Sadie." I had forgotten about it until recently and as I recounted it to several friends, I was told it was definitely blog material.

After the sermon was over, I collected my three children. As we maneuvered down the packed church hallway, I noticed that something dropped to the floor from Sadie's vicinity and subsequently rolled slightly away. I stopped. I peered. I sucked in every bit of breath in the area. It was...a hermit crab. Yes, my dear little Sadie had brought a pet to church unbeknownst to me and against every rule we have on bringing items from home to church. I mistakenly believed that if the rule pertained to inanimate objects, i.e. purses, toys, lip gloss, then surely it was clear that animate, living, breathing pets were as well. I was wrong.

I ran to retrieve the hermit crab before he was stepped on by the stampede of adult and children's feet. Face it, one blow and he would be squashed out of existence. With one quick swoop I clutched him in my fist and turned to face the child responsible. I am sure the look on my face was not a pretty one, possibly the devil incarnate. But then, I realized something more shocking than the fact that our crustacean was a guest that morning. Well, the term "guest" implies that it was somewhat voluntary and clearly, the hermit crab had no say so in the matter.

What dawned on me was that Sadie did not have any pockets on her dress that morning. She did not have a purse in which to store the hermit crab either, because that was against our rule. Here was the quick, ensuing interview:

Me: Sadie, where did you have the hermit crab?
Wait for it...wait for it...

Sadie: In my panties.

Oh, my. Oh, MY! Yes, think about it for a moment. That meant that my child had crabs in a bizarrely and strangely and perplexing way. I was at a complete loss.

Speechless, I thrust the crab into the diaper bag I was still lugging around for Lily's sake and I quickly herded the children to the car. The ride home was quiet, the calm before the storm. At home we silently filed inside. The rest of the day was quite unremarkable, until dinner. It was at that point in time when I realized I had left the diaper bag in the car and the hermit crab contained within. Racing to the car I discovered that the crab had, in fact, escaped the confines of the diaper bag. I spent the next 30 minutes crawling around the floor of the van, flashlight in hand, searching for this "beloved pet." I finally discovered him, clinging to the bottom of the driver's seat. Still living? Yes. Traumatized? Oh, most definitely!

It is no surprise that he met his demise just a few days later. I decided not to tell the children right away, just to see how long it took them to notice he was missing. It took them exactly 16 days. Clearly, we were all over "the crabs."

Friday, April 03, 2009

Embracing Me

Inviting someone into your home for the first time is stressful. Right or wrong, our little nest tells others about us whether in its decor, upkeep, or income level. You open your home to someone who previously only knew the "prepared for the world" you, but there is not much you can hide from someone when they are in your home. You open the front door wide open for some one to know the real you and all that goes with it - anxiety, judgments, and internal criticism.

A friend came over to my house yesterday. It was her first visit at my home. As we walked through it, I found myself doing my usual "tour guide script." The same type of chatting I have done whenever anyone comes to my house. In fact, I could tape myself and play it whenever fresh faces enter my domicile because I have repeated it over and over since we moved into it nearly 5 years ago. It is a script riddled with justifications for its contents, as in, "Oh, that mirror, I got that at Costco." My own self-defined shortcomings, as in, "Oh, this room, it is the one that I just can't make work." My own plans for improvements as in, "We have long-range plans to rework the entire laundry room area as it is like a closet where you are beaten by coats and backpacks just to get out the door." And, I usually throw into the mix these carefully selected phrases, "Well, you know it is always a work in progress," or, "You can't take it with you when you die, " or, "We have been blessed. I certainly don't feel deserving of it." Lest anyone think that I spent any money in building or furnishing my house, take any pride in the home I have created, or believe that I actually enjoy my house. Deep down, it would destroy me if I discovered anyone left my house feeling as if my life were defined by material things. Or, if I ever came across with an air of snobbery, unaware of how blessed and appreciative I truly am.

So, after we completed the obligatory tour, my friend and I sat down to talk about my writing project. Interestingly, I could not receive any compliments about my writing. Even in talking about this book project, I was nearly apologetic.

I am not a writer. I mean, history does not support this notion of being defined as a writer. I was not a keeper of volumes of journals throughout my life. A few scattered here and there, but they are mostly filled with teenage angst and my first experiences with puppy love. I have only taken one journalism course and changed majors because I didn't find any pleasure in it. I also did not enjoy the class on journalistic ethics, either, as everything is grey to me - not black and white. I had two papers in college on which were written, "You might want to get some tutoring at the Writing Center." I have never had a job where writing was the main objective. Up until now, I haven't had the time to read a pamphlet, let alone write anything. This whole writing thing is a bit of a shock to me. And yet, it is the most pleasurable outlet I have at the moment.

To admit I am even a writer means that I have to admit that I am good at writing. Admitting that I am "good" or "excel" at anything is admitting that there is something good or excellent within me. And, this is something that I have believed, falsely I might add, is not true. I have believed that I have no part, no role in anything good in my life. Quite similar to what I wrote about my house, I don't want anyone to think that I believe that I am a great writer, blessed with a eloquent vocabulary with professional editing or grammar skills (clearly the latter is NOT the case). Additionally, I am wary of judgments regarding the time spent and effort put forth in my writing. And, I don't want you to think that I might take any pride in the posts I have crafted, or believe that I actually enjoy my writing and its resulting reactions.

On the flip side, denying or dismissing this means that I am saying no to the gifts that God has given me. I am beginning to understand that humility does not mean complete dismissal of self. It means recognizing that God has given me this talent or gift and I have chosen to act upon it. Therefore, I can give God the full credit for the awakening inside of me. Yet, I can have confidence and satisfaction, and gosh do I even say this word - pride - in my choice, knowing that I am walking down the path chosen for me. At least I think I am. (Doubt, always doubt)

A quote was passed to me and I feel very compelled to share it:

“It is in the quiet crucible of our personal private sufferings
that our noblest dreams are born and Gods greatest gifts are given,
and often given in compensation for what we’ve been through.”

- Wintley Phipps

I think there will be further explanation of how timely, relevant and accurate this quote is in the book. But for now, I will leave you to ponder on it, your gifts and your noblest dreams. Oh, and while you are at it, click here to complete my questionnaire. I need you!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

One for the Record

Readers, Lurkers, Friends and Strangers:

As most of you who have kept up with me know, I am working on a writing project regarding transparency and authenticity. Here is my desperate plea for help! I have created a questionnaire that I need to be completed by as many women as possible. Responses will be held in the strictest of confidence! I don't expect anyone to actually complete the questionnaire on my blog. Therefore, copy and past the questions in to an email message. Or, if you want complete anonymity, send me a message and I will reply with my address. My email is: . Please type "research" in the subject field.

It isn't a long list of questions, but it does require some thought. I ask that you answer with honesty, what you really feel, NOT what you think is the correct answer or what you think society says it should be. If you can only answer a few of the questions, that is fine. I'll take what I can get! Additionally, feel free to print out the questions and pass to anyone you think would take the time to complete this. Forward on to email groups, send by carrier pigeon, convey through smoke signals...just please help me market this. Statistically, the more women I have see this, the better chance I have of actually having some returned.

1. What do you fear people, particularly other women will know about you?
2. What do you avoid at all costs in your interaction with other women ?
3. When did you start hiding parts of yourself from the world? Can you remember an age or circumstance that led to this?
4. What 3 goals/desires do you have for your children?
5. How did your childhood impact these goals?
6. In what ways do you feel you fail as a mother? Or, as a wife?
7. Who, in this world, do you model?
8. What do they have that you don't?
9. Do you think (scale of 1-10) you are successful at modeling them?
10. Name 3 things you routinely do out of "peer pressure", because all the other wives and mothers are doing it.
11. Describe what "having it all" really means to you.

Again, THANK YOU, to whomever gets this completed and returned. I am indebted to you!